Something that we are hearing about more and more these days is the concept of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is basically the ability to be fully present to the present moment. Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences that are occurring now.
Those who strive to practice mindfulness have noticed some amazing benefits. On the emotional level they have noticed a reduction in stress, anxiety, and worry. Mindfulness has also been a great benefit to those who suffer from bouts of depression.
On the Physical level, blood pressure is lowered, heart rate slows down and breathing is calmed.
As wonderful as the benefits might be, mindfulness is a great challenge. Typically we are either caught up in the future, or lost in the past, but rarely are we solely in the present. In fact at times, we live as if the present does not even exist.
An inability to be in the present moment makes the state of mindfulness something difficult to achieve.
In the life of faith, living the present is very important. After all, God lives in the now, in the present moment. In God, the future and the past is now. In God, everything is now.
To live in God is to live in the now. To know God is to be in the now. For, it is always in the now that we can find God. The more we live in the now, the more we live in God.
The call of the Advent Gospel is to welcome Christ in our lives as he is present in the now: not only as the one who came 2000 years ago, and, not only as the one who will come at the end times, but rather, to welcome him as the one who is in the here and now. For, the celebration of Christmas tells us of the closeness of God in our lives in this very moment.
In other words, it is the call to be mindful of every event of our lives in order to know how God is speaking through those events now.
In the Gospel of Luke (1:39-45) we hear that crowds coming to John asking, “what shall we do?” In essence, they are asking what shall we do to know God, and to ready ourselves for the coming of the messiah. John tells them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none, and who ever has food must do likewise.” In other words, to be mindful to the moment you are in and respond to that moment.
Here-in lies the challenge: to respond to the moment mindfully. In any given day, life is filled with all kinds of occurrences.
Happy events, sad events, life-altering events, comforting and consoling events, challenging events and overwhelming events. Too often, these events may seem as mere nuisances either recycling our past or getting in the way of our future.
These events, however, are not mere nuisances but opportunities to encounter God. In every event or occurrence, God is present and revealing something significant. If we are not present, either because we are wound up in the past or caught up in the future, we ultimately miss something that God wishes to reveal to us. When we fail to enter into the present moment, either because we feel it’s too painful, intimidating, irrelevant, superficial, or insignificant, then we miss the God who speaks in every moment for our good and well being.
God is in the now – no matter what that now might be.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God was there
When Jesus grew up in Nazareth, God was there
When Jesus began his mission and ministry in Galilee, God was there
When Jesus fought Satan in the dessert, God was there
When Jesus was crucified to the Cross on Good Friday afternoon, God was there
When Jesus laid dead in the tomb for three days, God was there
When Jesus was raised in Glory on Easter morn, God was there
God was in every moment. And, every moment revealed something to Jesus, not only about God, but also about himself and the world around him. Jesus was always mindful of the present moment. Therefore, he never missed the presence of God speaking to him. He lived in God and God, therefore, could live in him. So too is this opportunity available to us.
In a few days we will celebrate Christmas, the great in-breaking of God into our lives. In celebrating the birth of Jesus, we once again welcome an encounter with God who is in our presence.
In the Christmas event, we once again learn that it is always in the ‘now’ that we must seek God. It is in the now that we must ask ourselves the following questions: What is God saying to me in the experience or situation I find myself in? What is God telling me about who God is, and who I am and what the world around me ultimately means?